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Oral health is essential to general health and well-being at every stage of life. A healthy mouth enhances social interaction and promotes self-esteem and feelings of well-being. It also serves as a window, reflecting the rest of the body, providing signs of general health disorders. For example, pale and bleeding gums can be a marker for blood disorders, bone loss in the lower jaw can be an early indicator of skeletal osteoporosis, and changes in tooth appearance can indicate bulimia or anorexia.

Oral conditions affects on overall health and disease. An infected gum may cause bacteria from the mouth to spread, causing infection in other part of the body when the immune system has been compromised by disease or medical treatments. Systemic conditions and their treatments are also known to impact on oral health ( reduced saliva flow, altered balance of oral microorganisms.) This can for example be seen in patients treated with antidepressants or sleeping pills.

Periodontal disease has been associated with a number om systemic conditions. Through the biological interactions between oral conditions such as periodontal disease and other medical conditions are still not fully understood, it is clear that major chronic diseases – namely cancer and heart disease- share common risk factors with oral disease. Recognition that oral health and general health are interlinked is essential for determining appropriate oral health care programmes and strategies at both individual and community care levels.

Original article: Dental Health Foundation